Scotland has a reputation for being one of the most haunted countries in Europe, and thousands of visitors flock to see its rugged landscapes and meet with the hardy people who live there.
Centuries of brutal battles, mysterious monarchs and a devastating encounter with the Black Plague have provided the perfect foundations for a number of legends and stories that have been passed down from one generation to the next, stories that always include a ghost or two…
Glamis Castle, Angus:
No other location in Scotland (and perhaps the entire United Kingdom) has had as many disturbing legends and stories associated with it than Glamis Castle. The historical home of the Bowers-Lyons family, the castle is still owned by them through their Earl of Strathmore status. This castle has housed many monarchs over the centuries, including the late Queen Mother, mother to England’s current Queen, Elizabeth II.
Ghostly sightings include The Grey Lady, said to be Lady Janet Douglas, wife of the sixth Lord of Glamis, burnt at the stake after being found guilty of witchcraft and poisoning her husband. There is also the woman with no tongue who runs screaming through the castle and its grounds, and a black slave who was tortured and killed, who haunts a spot near the Queen’s bedroom. But perhaps the most famous legend, and the creepiest, is the rumour of a secret room within the castle walls. Some say the room is full of enemies of the families who’ve lived there, others say it is where the Monster of Glamis, a deformed child, was hidden away until he died. Throughout the centuries, it has been said that servants, workmen and other people have stumbled across the secret room, only to be silenced in some way or another.
Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh:
An iconic Scottish landmark, Edinburgh Castle has stood high above the city since the 12th century, when David I of Scotland ruled, and has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. Edinburgh Castle is a ghost hunters dream as the great fortress has seen kings and queens live and die within its walls, as well as prisoners of war during its lengthy period as a military base. Reports of phantom dogs, a headless drummer boy and even Lady Janet Douglas of Glamis Castle fame is said to have made an appearance in the spot where men and women found guilty of practising witchcraft were burned alive.
The Forest of Rothiemurchus, Inverness-shire:
During the day, Rothiemurchus Forest is a popular recreational site for both locals and visitors, a lush forest area situated within the Cairngorms National Park and home to an abundance of wildlife, including the osprey, capercaillie and wild cat. Night time is a different story, however, as the forest is also the final resting place of the Chief of Clan Shaw, whose ghost is said to challenge anyone who roams too far into the forest.
Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh:
Deep underneath Edinburgh’s busy streets sits a 400 year old network of narrow streets and alleyways, relics of the old city on which Edinburgh was built. Costumed character tour guides lead visitors around the underground maze and share grisly tales of plague victims left to starve, eerie apparitions and the infamous anatomy murderers, Burke and Hare. It’s such a popular attraction that booking in advance is wise, and senior citizens and students with valid ID get a reduced price, although children under 5 are not allowed. If visiting during the month of August, book a place on their Dark Truth tour, which starts every night at 10:30pm for those looking for that “edgier, murkier side to Edinburgh’s history”.
Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire:
Set in 300 acres of beautifully landscaped gardens since the 16th century, Castle Fraser is a stunning example of a fortified family castle. A beautiful landmark to visit even without the aid of the supernatural, Castle Fraser, like every good castle, has its own ghosts. Legend has it that a princess staying in the Green Room was dragged screaming out of bed by her hair and murdered. The castle’s guided tour always points out the wooden panelling covering the stairs coming down from the Green Room, where the princess’s blood reportedly stained the stone and no servant could clean it. Visitors have reported feeling strange in the tower where the princess was kept.